When the Chiefs nabbed Brandon Flowers in the 2nd round with the 35th pick of the 2008 NFL draft many experts considered him a steal that low.
Much later in the draft, Herman Edwards and Carl Peterson chose lesser known Brandon Carr, a division II player out of Grand Valley state in the 5th round with the 140th pick. Carr was thought to be talented but a bit of an unknown quantity, being that he did not play at a division I school. It was believed he would be a bit of a project and he began the year as a backup.
The fans may not have realized it at the time, but it was the start of something special.
The rookie out of Virginia Tech, Flowers, stepped right into the starting lineup, playing opposite veteran and cousin, Patrick Surtain. Flowers had a very solid rookie season, playing in 14 games and racking up 69 tackles, 13 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions and 1 touchdown.
Meanwhile, Carr did not stay on the bench long as nagging injuries to Patrick Surtain thrust him into the starting lineup. Carr also had solid numbers. He put away 73 tackles, 6 passes defended and 2 interceptions. A remarkable season given he was a fifth round draft pick.
The future looked bright on the corners in Kansas City.
This year the Brandons began the year as the unquestioned starters at the corners. Flowers showed marked improvement. The 2nd year pro finished up the year with 65 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 5 interceptions. He also added 5 tackles for a loss. Those numbers do not include the Baltimore game for which Flowers was injured and did not play.
However, the most glaring indication of Flowers’ improvement was his passes defended, which rose from 13 to 23. Flowers appears to be about to make the jump from very good corner to shutdown corner and he may be arriving at that level a little early.
When one thinks of the best shutdown corner in the league, a name Chiefs fans know all too well comes to mind. The Raiders best player, Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha is so good that he has nearly stopped recording stats all together. It is hard to get interceptions and tackles when QB’s are terrified to throw the ball in your direction. However, Nnamdi didn’t enter the league striking fear into the hearts of opponents. In fact, if you look at his stats, it took him until is 4th season to really make QB’s pay for throwing in his direction.
In his 3rd season, Asomugha had 60 tackles, 14 passes defended and no interceptions. Very similar to the numbers Flowers put up in his first season. In Asomugha’s 4th season he really broke out. The Raiders corner recorded 50 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 19 passes defended and 8 interceptions. After that, Asomugha’s stats went away. For the last three years he has recorded no more than 40 tackles, no more than 9 passes defended and has only picked off 1 ball each year. Teams simply stay away from him.
Flowers had just as good, if not better a year in his second season than Asomugha had in his 4th. With 3 interceptions in his last 4 games, all signs indicate that teams had better avoid throwing at Brandon Flowers if they would like to keep possession of the football.
Carr also showed improvement in his 2nd season. He was picked on often due to his playing opposite Flowers, however, Carr rose to the occasion more often than not. He recorded 62 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception and his passes defended rose from just 6 in his freshman campaign to 19 this year. Quite frankly, Carr’s numbers are fairly similar to those put up by Flowers in his rookie season.
The 3rd and 4th seasons are typically when most players either make the big jump to the players they will be throughout their prime or they show that they have reached their ceiling and level off. Both men are only 23 years of age and are entering their 3rd season. With the addition of better cover linebackers and a shutdown safety to play alongside Jarred Page, the Chiefs could end up having one of the youngest and most talented backfields in the NFL.
The Chiefs young defense is growing up, and the two Brandons are right on schedule.